April 22, 2024
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Wayland Baptist University is considered a minority-serving school.  

Chloe Barham and Devin Davis said their research shows the university serves about an even number of students who identify as white and Hispanic.  

Seventy years ago when Wayland Baptist College, as it was known, accepted its first students of color, there was a larger population of students who identified as Asian, Barham and Davis said.  

They would know. They’ve spent the last semester doing extensive research about the university’s path to integration to showcase their findings in a new exhibit at the Llano Estacado Museum on the WBU campus.  

The exhibit officially opened with a special reception last week. Davis, a junior history major, and Barham, a senior humanities major, were both present and gave The Herald a guided tour of their findings.  

The results of their research is displayed across a wing of the museum. It includes artifacts, collections of old newspaper clippings and old letters sent to the university president – James Marshall – after the decision was made to admit students of color.  

Marshall, said Davis and Barham, played a key role in pushing for integration of the university. He was a pioneer, said Davis.  

Information panels set up for museum visitors detail how he earned that title.  

The exhibit will be on display at the Llano Estacado Museum on the WBU campus for the next year.  

Visitors will find stories of the first students of color to be admitted, to be recognized in traditional university celebrations and learn about some of the struggles they initially faced on an officially integrated campus in a community that resisted those views.  

The project actually began during the pandemic, said Museum Director Melissa Gonzalez, who teaches the practicum, which allows students to basically act as a museum curator. A now-former practicum student, Ethan Beyers, began the research in 2020 with plans to create an exhibit to showcase the findings for the museum. But the COVID-19 pandemic shook up those plans and he was unable to see the project to fruition.  

When Davis and Barham signed up for the class, they were presented with several options and ultimately chose to add on to his findings and create this exhibit.  

“We based a lot of our research on his research,” said Barham said. “He helped a lot so kudos to him.”  

But it wasn’t just Beyers who helped them along. Barham credits “a community” of WBU folks with helping the practicum students fill research gaps and find artifacts to help share their story.  

As they walked through the exhibit sharing details of their research, Barham and Davis each noted their passion in making sure their story came through. 

“This is a labor of love,” said Barham, who noted the pair spent long hours bringing it all together in what they hope is an engaging way for museum visitors. “We’re really proud of it.” 

Those interested can visit the museum Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

Ellysa Harris, Muleshoe Journal


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